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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Challenges » Bookend challenge entries (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Bookend challenge entries
snapper
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This thread is set aside for the Bookend Challenge. Please do not post in it until all the entries have been received. I will notify you when you can post on here. You are free to post in the other thread, all you want.

Remember, all entries are anonymous. The final day of the contest is Jan 14th. For a better explanation of what this challenge is about, please click onto the blue print linked to the other thread.

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snapper
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Entry # 1 The Process

Fifteen dragons, three of every color, flew across the sky in a wedge, like geese flying south.
Meredith tapped her fingers over her keyboard… What should come next? I need a POV character…
Valeriah looked up from her saddle, and then back to where the Dragon’s began their leap.
No.
Backspace, backspace, backspace.
Fifteen dragons, three of every color, soared… okay, flew… across the amber sky.
Amber sky… cool.
I wonder if this is the one that will finally get that yes.
Don’t jinx it, Meredith…

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Loved this idea. Which one of us can’t relate to what Meredith is going through? Funny and relevant, fits perfectly for a challenge meant to spur depressed writers into writing. I do have nit. Most of the story is written in first person yet it slides into 3rd person a few times. You may want quotation marks or italics to differentiate what is a thought and what is not.

#

It's well written, but I just don't enjoy reading about someone writing. Breaking the fourth wall is hard to do without pulling the reader out of the story.

#

This one hit a little too close for home for comfort. Fun idea, but wore out its welcome after a while. Impressive use of formatting changes, and surprisingly it survived cutting and pasting. I was hoping something exciting would happen -- maybe the dragons would come alive flying out the computer screen -- but it never did. Perhaps there is an intruder lurking in the house and tampering with the thermostat?

#

This was hilarious. I loved the stream-of-consciousness approach, and I found myself relating to a great deal of Meredith’s inner monologue. Nice to know I’m not the only one who does the oh-crap-I-just-used-that-word thing. Well written, and great use of the bookends.


#

I liked the way you went through the writing process. It was interesting and well formatted. I was intrigued with it until: “I think I’m starting in the wrong place.” It disrupted the flow of the story for me. I felt like we weren’t accomplishing anything, which I understand is true to the writing process but as a reader you lost me. I gained interest again at “Hiccup was a walrus with a toothache.” I really liked the voice you have, it was an entertaining read.

#

Sorry but this held me to about the second lot of backspace, backspace, backspace. It was scatty and all over the place. There was no real story but the writer trying to think of one. I never made it to the end.

#

I get it. I really do. It just wasn't interesting to me. And the constant self-interruption was just very, very jarring. There were great moments, like Jorge and Hiccup walking into the gym, followed by the “Where does this stuff even come from?” comment. BRILLIANT! I laughed out loud at that part of it. But in the end, I just don't care about a writer writing. And eventually, with no actual narrative to follow, the train of thought thing just got confusing. What I would LOVE to have seen was a back and forth narrative between a protagonist ACTUALLY doing something, then going back to the writer changing things, then back to the protagonist, confused by the world changing underneath him, or something like that. That could be a hilarious story, and I think would have felt very similar to what you tried to do. But hey, that's my story idea, not yours. And I must say that despite the rough read, I loved ending up at the same starting sentence and being happy with it. Great way to end, even if I got tired of the journey. Ultimately, didn't really like it, but I wish I did!

#

I enjoyed reading this, and it's well written. I can't find anything "wrong" with it per se. Kudos for finding a way to work so many openings into the story.

#

Right off the bat I’m conflicted. I like the humor and angst in this one, but still a little too familiar. I will never look at the backspace key the same way again. Not much I could pick out as flaws in the writing. It seemed a little disjointed, but then I think it was meant to be. Extra points for working in multiple lines; loses points for using the same line as at the first and end of the story. Also the bookend line wasn’t technically the last line. I know I’m being picky, but the title of this one was the process.

#


Haha – loved it! No wait…backspace, backspace…adored it. It hit so very close to home – wait, is that cliché?

#

I found nothing wrong with the writing, it was at first very engaging, but the story dragged on. I know that’s hard with it being so short. But after the about the first couple times of backspace, backspace, I had had enough. I don’t think there is really anything wrong with the piece and it hit home and true, but sometimes the cliff-notes are better than the real thing.

#

An amusing romp through a writer’s POV. Some hilarious moments, but overall the idea petered out after a while due to a lack of external interaction. I did like the paragraph about Hiccup the Walrus. And also the ending, although I didn’t really see “Beautiful.” as an ending on the list. [Big Grin]

#

At first, I was a little confused. As I continued reading, I got into the story and enjoyed it. There were several lines that made me chuckle and I liked how the end tied up the beginning.

#

First of all I thought this one gave away who wrote it but with a certain two or three people around here maybe not. I will have to see.
But there was a good rhythm between the writing and the thinking. Or was that mumbling to self? It told the story in less than a thousand words. There may have been too many halts and writing stumbles however. Personally I didn’t like the change of opening but I don’t think it harmed the story.

That’s it.
One more thing. Meredith or whoever wrote it(Name changed to protect the innocent?) Can I use the scene of her on the dragon and her hair “flew-danced-flitted” behind as a cape? I already have a basic idea for that scene.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:50 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 2 The Face of Faith


When I asked my children what they wanted for breakfast, my daughter answered, "Jesus." There was a twinkle in her eye, as if she knew the full ramifications of what she said. For an instant, that twinkle reminded me of her late father, David.
“You can’t eat people,” her brother said, lording all of his three-year-old wisdom over his younger sibling.
“I can,” she declared, glancing sideways to see how that button worked on him.
Her brother looked at me, suddenly unsure of his argument. “She can’t, can she Mom?” He’d been so sure he was right, I could see his world toppling around him if he was proven wrong.
“No,” I said. “You can’t eat people.” His face looked relieved, reaffirmed. I wondered if his sister would continue

##########################################

I thought this one had a complete story arc and was clearly written. It had an ambitious level of scientific content. Didn't work for me on an emotional level, though. Not sure I really saw the point of cloning her dead husband, I didn't see her goal or motive. It was
kind of talky, and the MC sounded like she was boasting when she described her "more complex belief in God."

#

The first thirteen lines could be removed, and the story wouldn't change. Even though it was a requirement, it is a weak beginning for me. There are also many long, long sentences that drag.

I don't know if it is supposed to be comedic, but the "i can clone a human" explanation seems very simple. It goes from being interesting turmoil of science and god to Angels and Demons.


#

This surprised me. Guess I hadn’t expected such an intense story could be woven from the opening line. It’s very well developed, quite an accomplishment for a mere 1500 words, and your characters are wonderful

#

Her brother, his sister. The POV is the mother, what are her children's names? I started skimming a fair bit on this one. I like the premise, but it really needs tighening up.

#

I really enjoyed this one. The prose flowed smoothly, and the train of thought was very clear in all the characters, especially, the MC, from beginning to end. I loved how the trigger was integrated into the story, the retelling of a humorous incident setting off that random lightning-strike idea from out of nowhere. Personally, I would like to have seen this story get about 4x as much space to be told. As it was, I just didn't quite buy into the decision to 1) re-create a human, 2) try to get Jesus DNA, and 3) when that didn't work, use her dead husband's DNA. Not that I COULDN'T have bought it, I just didn't have enough background to really believe it. Were they just about to test this technology out ANYWAY? Or is this really a spur of the moment, “Hey, we oughta try this!” thing? 'Cause I'd buy the first, but not the second. But . . . some willing suspension of disbelief is helpful, so I pulled some out and kept reading. I LOVED the final line and how it was fit into the story, but afterward I felt a bit cheated, like there was a further punch-line waiting to come. The payoff just didn't seem to match the buildup. And despite that, I truly enjoyed reading this story, every word of the way.

#

I am really enjoyed the way you incorporated the lines. The story gave just enough information for you to know what was going on without giving information that was unnecessary. It was an interesting twist to the beginning line and the ending line matched it beautifully. The only thing I would recommend would be to perhaps find a way to remove Carey from the story. With the length that it is, the introduction of another named character seems superfluous.

#

Emotional story. You had something going on here but I began to lose interest halfway through. I liked the protagonist and the asper scientist, too bad the premise fizzled. I didn’t quite get how David’s DNA made it into the manufactured man. Well written, I’d rethink the last half.

#

Brilliant! Packed with details, emotion, character, and plot. I always think my entry is so great when I hand it in. Then I read something like this and want to shout, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!"
Bonus points for using each and every of the allotted 1500 words.

#

My first nit pick with this one is the conversation in the first scene between he kids seemed a little old for a three year old and a younger sister. Maybe try making them a little older. There is something wrong with the sentence explaining what an aspee is, the phrase “to be an Asperger Syndrome.” Is incomplete. Also some odd expressions, “could hold religion and work in tension”. And some punctuation errors, like a comma is needed after that phrase. I also found the writing a little distant. For instance where the author is talking about David’s suffering I would expect more emotion. The section sounds almost clinical. Good story, nice premise and some good stuff in there, but it could stand some additional shaping and work. I will echo Axe’s advice on numerous occasions, try reading it out loud. You will find a bunch of stuff you missed.

#

Very smooth writing, and an interesting and complex storyline. I liked it, but felt the ending was cut a little short to get the last bookend sentence in.

#

A nice story and it used the lines well. This may just be a personal opinion, well of course it is, its mine. But it may just be me, but I felt a little betrayed, it seemed like we were talking about Jesus, a pretty heavy subject and I expected it to go that way then it didn’t. Its not so much that I felt the ending was bad, I think it should have been more of a shock to work. I knew the second she couldn’t get DNA what was going to happen, and it didn’t work for me at that point.

#

I thought this one was beautiful. I would have given it a yes, and then fought for it come winnowing time. I love the depth of the POV character, and how it ended. Beautifully done.

#

I liked the way the story began but started to lose interest when it came to the argument at work. I did not understand what sort of same she gave to Herald to use for his clone.

#

Catchy title, nice tale too. But I think there needs to be something more about what was coming in the opening scene. And maybe a bit more about the society. Sounds like an alternate society where the Catholic church as a lot more influence. Or it might be in just that local area which would be okay. The conflict between religion and science is a cliché but I think it works here but at the same time there doesn’t have to be an inner conflict between the two and personally I think that is a stereotype that isn’t all that true. But again it seems to work here.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:51 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry #3 Lauma von Prussia


The face that had been so beautiful in life, death had rendered exquisite. This scion of the devil, this Lauma is no longer an influence in the Crusades. Gerhard had won. Lauma’s body was broken and cold as the slate floor beneath her.
Gerhard tried to warn Hermann about her, but he would not listen. Hermann believed he was giving gifts of honor and prestige by using Prussian magics to bind Lauma to the Emperor, but Gerhard knew the truth. Oh yes. You cannot invite a demon into your midst and not expect to have your soul taken from you. Even if you think you are master, you are not. What fools; Hermann and Emperor Frederick both.
The two men lost themselves to lust, and for that precious time has been wasted in retaking the Holy Lands. Instead she led them

#################################################

I like this but I'm struggling to work out who the POV character is in the first scene. This is clearer in the following scenes though and I quite like this one. Nice premise.

#

I liked the way you provided two very different viewpoints on Lauma. That was pretty interesting, to first hear that she was an evil witch who deserved to die, and then learn a completely different account of her virtues from Frederick’s perspective. Your story has some tense issues, particularly at the beginning where it switches back and forth from past to present.

#

The mix of the Frederick timeframe (as it seems to be based on a real time/person but with magic) and words like "high noon" and "morn" are awkward. Also, in the beginning, nothing happens. There is a lot of exposition and infodumping, but no real action.

This story takes a lot from history, but doesn't offer much. Also, unless you already know the history, many of the name-drops and organization names are meaningless to a reader, almost like stock words.

Consider a more, in-the-scene story?

#

This was an ambitious story set in a relatively unfamiliar setting. I liked the way we switched viewpoints and learned Lauma wasn't as bad as we thought. Still, it tried to cram an awful lot of plot into a short space, without many interesting twists or neat ideas. Heinrich von Hohenlohe will be awarded the position of Hochmeister-- "In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen”

#

This was a tough one for me. For starters, the actual construction was incredibly jarring. I've re-read the first paragraph since it was posted on the forum, and I'm still having a tough time understanding it. There was a lot of that kind of stuff in this story. There were paragraphs, and even sentences that change tense or voice halfway through, a fair number of typos that I had to stop and re-read, and a lot of terminology I'm not sure I understood. It made for a reading experience that constantly pulled me out of the story. I took a step back and just got a feel for the flow of the story, and where it was headed, and I don't hate it. But it assumes a lot of history I'm not sure I'm clear on. A longer story would have been easier for you to lay some of that background out, but as it was, I kinda felt lost. Finally, while I liked the end, and how the story got there, I wasn't sure how I should feel about it. Depressed? Bad? Good? Satisfied? Was this guy the good guy, or bad guy? And all of that just sounds like I hated every bit of it, but honestly, I think there's a lot of potential there. The characters and setting seem to be very thoroughly fleshed out in your head, and I'm actually quite interested in that story. You just didn't do a great job of communicating it to me.

#

Historical/fantasy tale of Fredrick of Prussia. Too much backstory made this story a lengthy infodump. I’d reconsider the need for the mini-history lessons, work on bringing out the tension, and rewrite this as an active piece. I am guessing you’ll need to at least double the size of this idea to make it a solid story.

#

This tale was rich with mysticism and I felt a strong sense of place while reading. I didn't care for the ending, and it seemed to work very hard to end with the sentence it did. Also, I was a little confused by who I was supposed to be rooting for.

#

I found a couple of expressions odd, like “Prussian magics”, isn’t magic both singular and plural; and “Sorcerous properties”, don’t think I’ve see that adjectival form before. I also thought the use of “Leviathan” a little odd. There is a good story in there, but it felt rushed at the end, skipping too many pieces. I’m sure the size limit played in there. Nice conflict in the different perceptions of Lauma.

#

I had a hard time understanding what was going on. Problems with tense, flitting from past to present, and multiple vague characters and political machinations made this story more difficult to decipher than it should have been.

#

This piece was too heavy for me, the thoughts too thick. It read very passive and didn’t seem to move forward. I had no idea who to relate too, or feel for, so when the ending came I was in different.

#

This one didn't work for me. It felt like an infodump, and so distant I had a hard time reading. I would have said no, although it is an interesting idea.

#

An intriguing backstory, but the promised key story didn’t really come through. I wanted to know more about why Gerhard considered her a devil, and was not satisfied with her being “a heathen” – that is too simplistic for the complex backstory already developed. I was at least hoping for some political intrigues to later develop between Gerhard and Frederick, but I suspect that the number of words for such was too short.

#

I struggled to figure out which character was which in the beginning of the story. It took quite a bit of re-reading to figure out what was going on. I did like the different viewpoints on Lauma one I sorted out who was who.

#

Interesting little tale. I wonder how Gerhard got a hold of Lauma though. Even though it may not matter in this short of story. The beginning of the last section might need a little changing. The third sentence reads like it doesn’t quiet belong there. Maybe change the “had been ambushed” to when he was ambushed. And change the opening of that sentence to It was while on a mission.... Something along those lines anyway.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:51 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry #4 Revelations


When I asked my children what they wanted for breakfast, my daughter answered, "Jesus." I looked at her sideways. I was sure we didn’t have one, but I could never say no to those big round eyes. So I checked the pantry, melded briefly with the few free roaming in the pasture, and rummaged through the freezer, before I answered.
“Sorry, my slimy, squishy, eight-tentacle everything, but we don’t have any human’s named Jesus.” I lifted a blond-haired pale-skinned male (she had a preference for the light-colored ones), by a leg. It kicked and screamed – Earther screeches have such a pleasant ring to them – as I dangled it before my precious little one. “How about a Brendan instead?”
Xylzym’s primary eyes opened wide and a bead of drool dripped


##################################################


Clever and well written. Makes me wonder what’s going on in that head of yours, with the weird creatures and the Christian appetizers.

#

Spectacular. I LOVED the fact that your POV character didn't describe much in this obviously VERY foreign world. I bought into it completely, just because she (it?) did, and didn't constantly step out of the flow of her narrative to TELL me about her world, just assuming I should expect beaks and tentacles and portals. I loved the influencability of the child, the curiosity of it, contrasted with the utter inflexibility of the adults. The story just flowed, and the characters were great. I thought it was a great look at how belief, fear, religion and intolerance spread or doesn't, for bad or good. There's just a million layers here, and I think you could even make a longer story out of it just as easily. The big criticism I have is I felt like the ending came halfway through the story. I was expecting a big climax, some sort of confrontation or explosion of craziness when the entire food supply gets contaminated by these 'missionaries' getting sent back through the portal with their miraculous escape stories. But I didn't get that. I just got the hint of the start of that, and it left me wanting more! Please write more, so I can read the rest of the story. :-)

#

Your story had me reading and interested through the whole thing. I loved the “eat your greens” lines as well as all the other aspects of raising children that you implemented quite well. The only part that I stumbled on was the last line. It took me a couple times reading that last paragraph to understand if being completely normal was a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe clarify that a little before ending with that line.

#

I liked this one. It was funny and quick and smart. How you made the opening line integral to the plot was also really nicely done.

#

This had many hilarious lines at the beginning. I especially liked "he had to eat all his greens". I think it veered in the wrong direction as we got into religion. I think that the funny tone clashed with the seemingly serious message about prayer. I am guessing at the
end the daughter has magically converted?

#

“How many times have I told you not to play with your food?” This cracked me up:) Very good read and a great idea.

#

Here is where I cite the obligatory, "How did you get this story, from that trigger?" After only a few paragraphs I realized I wasn't in Kansas anymore. In fact, I wasn't even on Earth. My impression was that the humans that went home explained what happened and indeed spread the "disease" like a disease. I felt the last line was tacked on and it caused the ending to become murky. Sadly, I wasn't exactly sure how I was supposed to feel - how you wanted me to feel - when I was done reading.

#

A few minor technical errors, for example on page 4 it should be “humans”, not “human’s”. Nice story, I really liked the humor in there. Interesting premise and execution. My only issue is that I don’t think the last line really works in that story.

#

Funny. Very creative take on the first line. The prose was clear and flowed well. Not sure the ending line was completely satisfying, though.

#

A funny piece and with the limitations of this challenge not bad at all. I found it very funny and quite entertaining up until she became a pastor, at that point the story strayed for me. I would have really liked to see it end with the comment of, “I told them Jesus answered their prayers,” and she sent them off. But of course the challenge didn’t allow for this. Still not bad.

#

I thought this one was cool. I didn't one hundred percent get what happened at the end. The story would be improved with a bit more clarity. But overall, good.

#

This was a hilarious story, sucking me in on several levels – not the least the opening where I had better reason than most to be interested in the story. The only issue I had was with the ending, which didn’t quite work for me as it forced the final line in (the rest of the ending was fine). Great ideas, and well plotted for the size, and some very funny lines.

#

I enjoyed this story. It was fun and stayed consistent. The one thing that kinda spoiled it a little for me was how similar the aliens lives were to that of humans.

#

A different tale here, at least from the others, which isn’t bad. You have the whole story there. With the possible exception of one thing. Was the mother correct about why her daughter had changed or was that just a motherly realization? Even though I think the use of the last sentence was pushing it a bit.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:52 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 5 The Pesky Dead


Six feet of earth is never enough to truly bury the dead. To get the job done right, the coffin should be under at least twenty feet of reinforced concrete. Otherwise, the corpse will tunnel to the surface within six days after burial, maybe four days if the weather is warm. To prevent that, you need a quality construction job done by a bonded and licensed contractor. You need a no-worry burial from Columba Construction.
Yes, all that concrete isn't cheap, but the alternative is worse. Believe me, you don't want dear old granny sprouting like a daffodil in the graveyard. According to the CDC, your average class 3 zombie causes at least $14,000 of property damage before being apprehended by Corpse Control. And once they put down granny, guess what? You're not only liable for the damage she


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Amusing, not sure if the monk story fitted seamlessly into the sales pitch. It might also be that class 1 zombies and class 2 zombies are excessively similar to each other, in that both can communicate with us

#

Not a bad idea, but it feels like it can't decide if it's an infomercial or a story. And honestly, I'm cool either way. Make an 'informercial' full of odd non-sequiturs and humorous juxtapositions. Or, have it be the president of this company, rattling on to some guy in a bar about this, or something with a setting. As it was, there were some fun pieces, but lacking a setting or a direction, I had a hard time getting into it.

#

Unique take on the zombie genre. The writers prose made this a tiny bit dry, not much, just enough that it may be a problem submitting it. Other than that, I adored this tale. I found it funny and loved the ending. High marks for the clever use of the last line.

#

Nice idea but for some reason I found it boring, too much of a monologue with no story in it.

#

Nice premise and good hook the way it is almost an advertisement for what the story will be about. Good humor and a nice job making the story seem almost regular, even with the zombie aspects.

#

Witty, quick and to the point! I enjoyed it a lot. The beginning and ending lines worked extremely well for this story. The advertising type format was an excellent venue for this as well. My only curiousity remaining is what is a class 3 zombie? You say that they can do a lot of damage but never mention them again. I liked the whole idea of granny coming back and contesting the will.

#

Quite a sales pitch. I do wish there had been some character development, so I could visualize the speaker and his customer. I liked the different levels of zombieness.

#

I really liked this one. However, I feel it could have been ten times stronger if it was done like it was a TV commercial, or a salesman pitching this to a client. Now, you may say "Hey, dummy, that's what I DID!" But... I need a character to latch on to so I can picture a scene. This could probably be added in one or two short paragraphs.

#

I liked the humor in this one also. I found some technical issues. There are some punctuation issues, look at that section about Oran rising from the dead as an example. Also Shouldn’t Facebook and Amazon capitalized? I think you need a copy of that Zombie danger chart in there somewhere, the one that talks about slow and fast zombies, smart and dumb zombies. Very good entry on the whole.

#

This had some funny ideas, but I didn’t feel it was a real story with a plot. More like an infomercial – which may have been the intent - but I kept waiting for something to happen.

#

An add? I gather the story was an add or an infomercial. I am not sure. It was funny, and read fine, but wasn’t sure of the point. I know a challenge like this can limit the story, but I didn’t feel there was a story.

#

This one was my favorite first thirteen, but the story seemed to get old fast. Just an idea, when you started talking about class 1 zombies, how they make typos and play on the computer, I thought it would end with a bunch of typos, like that the POV character was actually a zombie. Not bad though. This story would get a maybe with editing from me.

#

Hilariously conceived and fortunately very short. This sort of piece can only work as flash. I enjoyed the concept, even the hidden twist with the changing fonts (stage 3 zombie writing the email I presume). Not sure where you would find an audience for this, though, but I hope you do

#

I was enjoying the story until the part about the monk was introduced. It felt to me like it messed up the flow.

#

An interesting and humorous piece. I wonder though if it would be better to have the fact that it is a sells pitch reveled sooner. I thought it was a person’s thoughts about having to bury someone. Never explained why Oran being buried alive helped the problem with the devil knocking down the abbey but it may not need to with this type of story. I wasn’t sure about all of the phrasing- such as the “So anyway” paragraph but it fits with the type of guy Buddy sounds like. And class two zombies can talk but class one can’t ? Sounds almost like a contradiction.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:53 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 6 The Gift


Six feet of earth is never enough to truly bury the dead. It was a warm night in the summer of '86 when I first tried. By next morning the kid was running about again. It took three cracks of the shovel to get the little bastard back in the hole. No, earth is never enough, not any more. Not since I buried that Junestone woman.
I'll never forget that face. That serene smile, lovely, even in death. Those eyes, staring, clear as a pair of blue crystals, not a hint of death in them, yet filled with eternity. It must have been late spring, or early summer. I forget. But that was when it started.
She was alone in there. Just me and her and a hole in the ground. And she smiled.


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Hmm . . . I'm deeply conflicted about this story. I like it. It's simple and doesn't try to do too much. It goes smoothly from the start line into the end line, and I buy the MC completely. I'm a bit thrown, because I don't understand what exactly The Gift is, or what the rules are, and I REALLY want to because I think it would have more of an impact on me, but as it is I feel like a stranger overhearing a conversation in a bar. I'd like to know more, but I'm not really part of the conversation. I do like the train of thought from start to finish, and the prose flows very nicely, I just need a bit more info, I think.

#

A sixth sense story? Well written but the story didn’t quite grab me as the others did. Its lack of a meaningful conflict hurt it.

#

Wow. I’m not really sure what’s going on here. Is the narrator a gravedigger? A zombie hunter? What exactly did she curse him with? I need more information to make sense of this, but I’m probably on the slow side.

#

I thought this was intriguing, but I was wondering in what setting do we have the gravedigger shoving bodies without coffins into the ground? Who was it who thought it was just gasses? It got a little talky towards the end. I loved " It took three cracks of the shovel to get the little bastard back in the hole" and wish that humor and characterization could have been present later.

#

The story is poetic and has nice prose, but you spent the entire story not telling us what was happening. There was no conflict, little character, and no plot. The only mystery was to the reader on who and what this man was/could do, and it was never solved.

#

I like the story, if there were more I would want to read it. I felt a little unresolved at the end of it though, which could be good or bad, depending on your intentions. I felt like I still didn’t know what this “gift” was except that people came alive when he touched them. Is that all there is to it? Are they truely alive again, or more like a zombie of sorts? This could make an excellent story in a longer format.

#

I'm guessing the gift is becoming undead? Poetically written, this would have scored much higher if the curse was more thoroughly explained.

#

I’m generally a fan of brevity, but not in this case. This story started out like the zombie story above, but became something else. I’m still not quite sure what. I think it started out well, good description, nice start. A couple of nits, like I’m not sure what agonized is here. There was a font change there I didn’t understand, but maybe that was just my copy. Finally it seemed we went to some kind in internalized angst about being a grave digger. I think this story could benefit from a little restructuring and a clearer idea.

#

The writing was fine, but I was left struggling through most of it to figure out what ‘the gift’ (or ‘it’ as it seemed to be referred to through most of it) really was, and how it worked in the mc’s life. Lots of backstory, not much happening in the here and now.

#

A quick read. The beginning hooked me strong and fast and I loved the voice. But I found the story too short, and lack something. Not quite sure what though. Maybe more of his pain, or trouble.

#

This line, "Just me and her and a hole in the ground" is such a brilliant sentence. The rest of the story is fine, but I think I'll remember that sentence after I put all the stories away. I think you are on your way to brilliance. Well written, but the subject matter wasn't for me. I'd give it a maybe.

#

I thought that this seemed to be the set up to a story, not the full story itself. As a set up, it was fine, but it didn’t have the arc needed for a full story, nor did it have enough of the quirky humor promised in the opening to make it as a simple exploration piece, like a couple earlier did. However, as an opening, it did ok, setting up a cynical character that is currently unable to come to terms with his own unusual nature. It could go somewhere from here, and I enjoyed some of the prose (I particularly liked the phrase “a two edged sword of spite and misery”).

#

I was not exactly sure what he was cursed with. I feel like a deeper explanation of what the curse does to the dead would have made the story better.

#

Interesting. But why the comment about her being alone in there? I can see why he might say there was just the two of them but the alone comment is unnecessary. In the paragraph that starts with “One day I’ll share it.” Should find something other way of saying the second “one day”. Too close to the first one. And I don’t think it is needed. A semicolon after it and the next two sentences as phrases without the second “one day” Maybe.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:53 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 7 Turning Point


Fifteen Dragons, three of every color, flew across the sky in a wedge, like geese flying south. The crisp winter breeze bit at Sergeant Williams' face as he watched from his hiding spot in the marsh. If he squinted just right, he could almost imagine they were birds, except for the roaring engines propelling them slowly on their way. That and the intimidating armament of missiles, bombs and guns bristling from under their wings wrecked the illusion for him. They were still beautiful in their own way, lit up with the colors of The Republic, on display for the world to see, technological marvels few had ever laid eyes on. Their Chameleon skins usually blended them so well with their surroundings, it was difficult to see them even when you knew they were there.


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I liked the twist ending. My only complaint would be to have a hint of it somewhere in the story. Sarge wouldn’t be shocked at the gunfire and that “this was really going to happen” if he knew it all along. You had me hooked through the whole story. I just feel a little cheated when I look back through the story, now that I know the ending, and I the only thing I see that would have given even the slightest bit of inkling that they were traitors was that their commander didn’t like the video of his daughter, but that is a long stretch for me.

#

Some of the back and forth got a little old, and the beginning was very very slow. I'm not sure I needed all that background on the war either. I liked the end, but surprise endings seem cheap to me. If you could take their changing sides, and make it mean something to them, and show it in the story, I think it would be stronger.

#

Really liked this one, especially the twist at the end. Just a few typos to fix. Other than that, pretty good.

#

I loved that you took the dragons opener and made them aircraft. Really good. The whole story was good, excellent writing and an exciting plot. I wish I could say that the ending surprised me, but I knew that they were going to kill the prez. Not sure what telegraphed it.

#

Military action story. The beginning was heavy with back story. The military jargon was too much for me. The premise failed to keep me on edge, which is what I believe the author was after.

#

First paragraph--had to reread a couple times to understand that their chameleon powers were being used to light them up with colors of the republic. I thought the story was great describing exciting action scenes - Railroad! Railroad! -- and its worst describing geopolitical conditions. I have no idea what the motivation of the squad was.

#

I was thoroughly into this until the end. I felt cheated, which, sadly, ruined the story for me. Regarding critiquing this, I would say add either internal conflict, or a red herring, or some clue in which if I read it again, I could point at and say, "Ah ha, there it is."

#

This one was really good. Nice take on the trigger phrase. The author did a good job of capturing what it’s like to be in the military, sitting out on one of those missions. I was a little confused by the reference to camouflage in combination with the fifteen of every color. I might like a little explanation of how camo has five different colors (singular). Other than that pretty good story.

#

You have a talent for writing military fights and the military mindset. Good world building in a short space. A few punctuation and spelling things to clean up, but overall, very good.

#

Not bad. At times I was a little confused. But overall not bad. I liked the dragons being ships and not beasts.

#

This one had a cool and deep setting, and the characters and the idea was definitely interesting and well written. I would suggest adding a bit more justification for the assassination. Why exactly did they turn traitor? I'm confused.

#

This had an entertaining voice about it, which kept me reading until the end. But I was disappointed with the twist – not so much that it happened, rather that the earlier prose made statements that were inconsistent with the end. Statements that put him clearly in the security for the President without a hint that would have led to that “of course” moment at the end. A bit more ambiguity about his reason for being at that location, and some hints that perhaps his intelligence was not from the usual sources would have helped. Also, the last line could have been given more thematic weighting throughout, which would have made it resonate more than it did.

#

I wished that Taz would have been more involved in the story. We don't know how he died. My assumption was that the president got rid of Taz for the film he had made of the president's daughter but there is no real indication. Otherwise, I enjoyed it.

#

Nicely done. Even though “roaring engines” makes it sound like they planes were propellor driven which would seem strange with some of the other armament they had. But it might fit if this was a streampunk and if they were from the other nation would they be traitors? Or did I miss something? Overall not bad at all. Seems like a longer story and in this case I think that is good.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:55 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 8 One Last Wish


Six feet under is never enough to truly bury the dead. But then we weren’t really burying the dead. We didn’t even have a body. We had nothing. Nothing but a drop of blood, well, two, from a girl I just met.
“Anna, come on. We don’t have time for this.”
“Just enough.” She jumped down from the little backhoe she had used to fill in the grave. “Come on. The blood and earth will be too much for them. They’ll have to stop and dig.”
“Dig what? There’s nothing there.” I looked back to the grave then again to her. “And we lost as much time filling it up as they will digging! We have to keep running.”
She pulled up behind a large sarcophagus and laughed, her eyes sparking. “Probably more. But I’m done running.” She dropped the


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Not bad, it flows well. My biggest complaint is that the POV character seems pretty thick. I expect him to be surprised and disbelieving, but he seems to be a bit oblivious to what's going on. I mean, I see some guy digging through feet of earth with his hands and the first thing I think isn't “what if we get in trouble for killing these normal run of the mill every day Joe business people.” It's “WTF is that!?!?!?” The second biggest complaint . . . I just don't buy any kind of romantic interlude between these two, at all . . . not by the end of the story here. Three, four more chapters worth of story, maybe, but definitely not after this encounter here. I'm left wondering “What's her game?” Which maybe is the point, but it just didn't feel right to me. Other than that, I liked the flow of it, I think the premise is interesting, the characters are potentially interesting, if you can get me to buy into them, and in general I COULD like it . . . it just felt a wee bit off.

#

I loved the flow of the action. His reactions could have used a little bit more clarification. In the graveyard he seemed like he was going to have a nervous breakdown, but once he got into the car there was no trace of that hysteria. Very interesting concept with the blood of the zombies. I was definitely hooked through the entire story.

#

Zombie story. Still not completely sure why Anna doesn’t age. Loved the line “…there is something seriously wrong with me.” The biggest problem I have is the protagonist’s inability to absorb the events around him. Sure, they’re surreal but I would think the knowledge that the people they killed really weren’t people anymore would have sunk in.

#

I was a little confused at the opening scene. Where exactly were the protagonists when the enemies arrived? It took me a long time to figure out that the blood was from Anna. If the zombies could smell the blood under six feet of dirt, why couldn’t they smell the bleeding Anna (wearing only a raincoat) hiding nearby? How did these two characters come to be in this situation?

#

The intro was good, but then I got a little confused. Why is he there if he doesn't know anything about zombies. Why does he dig the grave? If he doesn't know about zombies, and he sees a girl blow people's heads off, his response is only "you can't do that!" you'd think he'd run away or try and stop her.

Even in fiction, actions should be understandable and causal.

#

The action scenes were terrific. Anna is an amazing character. I really enjoyed reading this, but I confess the ending felt off. It just seemed strange to go from zombie action to a straight-off-the-shelf romance ending.

#

You need to keep count of your monsters. There were four chasing them and by the time she was jumping into the grave to finish off the last one, she was only on her third. By this point I had that not-zombies-again feeling and gave up. The writing itself was fine, but the characters fell flat for me. It all felt a tad cliche.

#

Anna is a fun character. Reminds me of Faith from the Buffy series. Clearly, she doesn't care who is around, when she's ready - she's ready. I say she doesn't care because the kid is damn annoying. If that was your intent, you succeeded. I understand not all characters can be Daniel Craig. (Strong, silent, wooden.) - The beginning felt rushed and confusing, but once Anna started doing her thing, I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.

#

Another Zombie story, this one was pretty good with some different elements. A few nits. I didn’t like the phrase, “earlier evening’s rain”, seemed a little awkward. I think you mean “in an alley”, that confused me at first. Was the young man an ally? The phrase, “…entered only moment ago,” is at odds with all the activity that’s gone before. Minor point loss for the bookend phrase not being the end of the story. Overall a pretty good effort.

#

This story had a strong start, but it seems like it should be a longer. It’s a stretch to believe he can (sanely) go from meeting a girl to dismembering zombies to thinking of forever w. the girl in 1500 words or less. That said, the writing was above par and made it easy to picture what was happening.

#

Okay, I'm confused and grossed out. it seemed like the POV character was freaking out a bit too much at the beginning, without actually seeing his thoughts about what he was thinking. I didn't care for the POV character, and I'm not a huge Zombie fan. This one was not for me.

#

This was the story I wanted to read after the first 13s were revealed. It promised an action filled story of excitement and danger with an interesting character in Anna. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver – well it did deliver an interesting character, but it didn’t deliver a story. The main antagonists were dealt with too quickly, without any hint of real danger. And the story then had nowhere to go, so slid off into a combination of backstory and a romance that wasn’t within the initial promise. It would have been better to have delayed the final defeat of the zombies, given them a bit more ability and strength than they offered, and defeat them at the end – after the romance started to blossom. Or else, if you wanted to make the story about the romance, give us a promise at the start that romance is what the story is really about.

#

I felt like the POV character was horrified by what was happening but just went along with it. I feel the ending was a little weird. I didn't understand what he found attractive about Anna.

#

[ January 17, 2012, 08:56 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 9 Life and Death on the Bayou


Death was now a welcome guest, though she’d never be my first choice for company at a dinner party. It’s not that she was morbid, or heaven forbid, a bore. On the contrary, my sister was entirely captivating. At last night’s soiree she’d worn that plunging black sheath of hers and posed herself just so by the fireplace. The flames reflected through her champagne glass as though she were holding fire.
“Oh, Life,” she laughed at breakfast the next morning. “Did you see his face?” We sat at the wicker settee on my veranda enjoying the cool air. The formal gardens spilled out below us, and beyond them spread the lush Bayou from which my estate, my little slice of heaven, had been created.
My sister preferred New York and her penthouse overlooking the


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Clever story. I like what you did with it. I will suggest looking over the adj and adv and seeing which and how many you really need.

#

I thought this was nice, with a consistent tone, funny, and a full story. Loved the therapist angle. Kiss of death was funny. The ending fell a little flat with me. The scene with the scarf is nice but unclearly described. I wondered why the unnamed fiance had shown
up if she really didnt care about the zombification. Some details: I don't know what a sheath is in this context. " After her, Hugh fell out." - awkward.

#

Extremely clever. I really liked the ways you incorporated Life and Death sayings into the story. I giggled through the entire story. You presented the setting and plot very well. I felt like I was actually there, on the Bayou.

#

Death spoils the party. Intriguing tale of Life and Death. I liked how Death was cavalier (as it should be) but the backstory became entangled with the present. Perhaps it is my short attention span but it took me out of the piece. Strong writing, amusing final line, but not my favorite of the contest.

#

Again . . . Hmm . . . deeply conflicted about this story. I LOVE the idea of Life and Death being characters, but I think you cheapened it a bit by making their actions seem so petty. And when a simple vengeful partner can “kill Death” . . . it really pulls me out of my investment in the characters. I really wanted to see their interactions with the world seem a bit more accidental, or coincidental, or at least have some greater correlation with the way Life and Death work in the real world. These characters seem shallow and petty, rather than fickle and uncaring, which I would have found more interesting. On top of it, the dialogue seemed really stiff, and unnatural, and I'm not sure if it was because of the shallow characters, or if the shallow characters were due to the dialogue. All that said, I love the idea of Life & Death as siblings, a bit of a rivalry, and not REALLY taking into account the gravity and full effect of their actions. And I like the story in general, in terms of just plot. Not bad . . . just didn't 100% work for me.

#

This was well written but as a story it kind of fell flat for me. Killing Death? Seemed a bit too much of a twist for me.

#

So classy. I loved this story – the depiction of life and death as sophisticated sisters was excellent. The kiss of death? Nice. The zombie twist was not as satisfying for me as the build-up, but a really good entry.

#

A Hugh zombie! - Hahaha.
My enjoyment lie in Death's comeuppance. Other parts of the story seemed mundane. Although I dug the idea that Life needed a therapist. Seems apropos in relation to Death not needing one. I'm not sure where this could go after the story is over, and I like to imagine what comes next, after the author is finished. In this one, I felt a little lost. Death is Death, right?

#

Another Zombie tale with a twist. I liked the supernatural bent the author put into his take on the subject. A few nits: Little punctuation problem at the end of paragraph 2. I would probably put a period after the first sentence, but that’s purely a personal choice. As it is the sentence in a little convoluted. You could probably lose the “,too,” at the start of the next paragraph as well. Some passive voice in there too, as “…Seemed to have been working”, that would be better more active. I’m not sure if the slight twisting of the bookend phrase was within the rules, so I didn’t deduct for it. I like this one too, nice take and good story.

#

Cute story. I liked it all, even though I felt I little twisted around in the beginning. I don’t know if I read something off or what. The ending was my true concern, I was shocked Death could die so easy.

#

I liked this one until the end. I loved the psychologist bit. Hilarious. I didn't love the ending, but overall it felt satisfying, and creative.

#

I found Life to be an interesting character, while some lines were hilarious. I laughed aloud at the kiss of death, and some other lines earlier had me smiling. The ending was a little contrived, probably due to the lack of foreshadowing needed – it probably should have been woven into the story earlier about Life’s tendency to create zombies, and the fiancé went from “You @#^$” to “ho-hum” far too quickly. But other than that, it had a sense of story arc that kept this going.

#

I enjoyed this story. It was cleverly written. I felt the ending might could have been fleshed out a little more but overall was satisfied.

#

Not sure if the title really fits, well not the Bayou part anyway. YOu say in the story that is where it takes place but nothing in the story shows it has to be there. An aside here but I wonder who his therapists was, the goddess of wisdom? [Smile] Humorous ending even though I didn’t detect it was that humorous at the beginning. But the attack came kinda fast, it would have to but it did seem out of the blue.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:56 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 10 Elves and Reindeer

Every time she fell asleep, Molly would wake up somewhere else. It was annoying, but Jeff got such a kick out of it, watching her wake up, tired and confused. She'd woken up all over the house; on floors, the couch, the bathtub, the kitchen counter, backwards in their bed, and even in the front yard. Today it had been the dining room table. The first few times Molly had been surprised and frightened, but since then she'd just faked it.
Molly loved Jeff, or she was sicker than he was. Those were the only reasons she could think of for why she let his game continue. Jeff wasn't physically ill, but he'd been depressed since he'd returned from the war. None of his old hobbies interested him anymore; neither did his friends. He often didn't feel like doing their activities either. He claimed to still


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Very nice story, just a few formatting errors and a couple of typos, all at the end. Not sure about him carrying her about and leaving her around the house in the night though, definately sounds odd.

#

I thought this was a successful piece on its own terms. The weird wife relocation game was pleasingly odd, and I am sorry that it didn't play more of a role. I loved the little domestic details about the cookie cutters. The dressing up as Santa struck me as creepy and unnecessary. I would have liked a bit more of a plot, or at least some kind of climax, preferrably one flowing from the initial premise of wife relocation. I was also wondering about Molly's weight and Jeff's upper body strength. Maybe you could mention that Molly thought this was Jeff's way of showing his appreciation that she kept herself in shape, or his way of demonstrating his upper body strength, or something.

#

Very cute story and a great application of the lines! I felt the pains and joy Molly and Jeff went through in the story, and for it being as short as it was, that is a remarkable feat. Very artfully done.

#

I enjoyed this, and, to be honest, the first 13 hadn’t really captivated me. Just seemed sort of creepy. Turned out well, and I liked how you worked in the ending line.

#

I really loved this story. I loved the MC's description of this game of waking up in a new place every day, I loved the reason behind it. You painted a great picture of a loving couple going through a really tough time, and every second of it rang true for me. Jeff's progress is small and a bit at a time, but Molly is so grateful for every step, and it's heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. The only complaint . . . the ONLY one I have is that when you brought up the cookies, I knew immediately you were shaping the story to use the “Elves, Reindeer and Vodka” line, and it just lost a LITTLE bit of something special for me. A bit of the writer peeked through, and pulled me out of the story for JUST a moment. But that's SUCH a minor complaint, and I loved the rest of it. I feel bad that I don't have more specific praise, but I really am studying it to figure how to do things right. :-) I guess I'll just say, be happy with being a role model. Fantastic story!

#

Nice use of the bookends. This sweet story was spoiled by the overused info dumps. I think this could use a bit of tightening as well. Fix those and you’ll have an excellent shot at a sale.

#

I was intrigued to learn the waking in different places was a game played by her husband. And - a little creeped out by it. Perhaps it's because that plot thread falls away. This feels like two different stories. However, that being said, I very much enjoyed it. I struggled to get any character at all in my 1500 while you had it throughout.

#

Nice take on the challenge. I had a tough time finding some nits in there to pick. The only thing I could come up with was some paragraphing issues at the start and end of the piece. Really good story, nicely done.

#

This one surprised me. It started a little rough, I think because of trying to fit in the prompt, but turned sweetly sentimental as the couple struggled to rebuild their life together. Liked it.

#

Another cute story. The lines were used well. And a tough one at that. I liked the piece, not sure if I missed what happened to him, or it was left vague but still, I liked the piece all the same, and it was different.

#

I thought this story was beautiful, and full of hope. I liked the way they loved each other. It felt real, like two real characters who were trying to be patient with each other's baggage, and tried to make things better because of their love for the other. Well done. I'm not usually a very literary slanted reader, but I liked this one.

#

This was a delightful characterisation piece. However, there was neither a character arc, nor a story arc in this – it was a simple vignette. Beautifully done, and at times quite subtle flavours were expressed. But I think it would have a hard time selling in any of the usual markets – although perhaps it may work in a literary market.

#

I thought this story was very cute. The only part that I found a little boring was the description after she put the cookies in the oven. My interest was renewed when Jeff came back into the kitchen as Santa.

#

An interesting and feel good type of story but she must have some pretty strong furniture, especially if both lay on them, and she must be a very deep sleeper. I think this could use a bit more of the five human senses. A couple of good places for taste and smell.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:57 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 11 Beryl’s Fate

Every time she fell asleep, she’d awake somewhere else. In the three years since being cursed, Beryl had experienced hundreds of realities, none of them hers. Oh, some had been pleasant enough: peaceful kingdoms, kindly people, plenty to eat. Others had been worse than any nightmare. The sun rose in her current waking world, painting the sky pink behind tall hemlock trees. Beryl slept on the ground, covered by her grey woolen cloak. A curious bee buzzed close, and Beryl opened her eyes.
“Shoo, bee,” she said, waving the striped insect away from her face. “Unless you can tell me where I am?” The bee didn’t answer, flying deeper into woods which were dappled now with sunlight and frost on its carpet of dead leaves.
“Right, then, the insects don’t talk. That’s a relief.” She sat


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Not bad, but it seemed a bit convenient that Gran was a sorceress. How lucky can you get?

#

Specific line that seemed odd: blood dripped profusely.

The story seems like more of a scene. You don't get much of the Beryl character who apparently knows what torture sounds like, knows how to fight, and is pretty sane for someone who wakes up somewhere else all the time.

Seemed more like a piece of a story than a short story.

#

Not a bad idea hidden in here. This needs a reworking. Lots of tightening would help. I would like to have seen more worlds, but we only had 1500 words, didn’t we?

#

Mildly predictable ending but no less enjoyable. Being a mother myself, the thought of waking up without my children would be terrifying. My only complaint is that Beryl seems emotionless. She is resigned to her fate, I understand. And she doesn’t like to talk about her past, but her emotions have other ways they could manifest. You touched it briefly with her playing with Caron and while engaged in the encounter with Dorn and Brand, but it was a passing mention of playfullness and/or fear.

#

Great premise. " It sounded like a girl, and it sounded like she was being tortured."--I am not sure this makes sense, especially as the girl is not actually being tortured. I'd think that Beryl would have asked whether the world had coffee. The three soldiers seem to give up without much fight. I was surprised that Beryl didn't investigate further when Gran could sense her curse.. It took me a while to understand the last sentence.

#

Very nice story, just a few formatting errors and a couple of typos, all at the end. Not sure about him carrying her about and leaving her around the house in the night though, definately sounds odd.

#

I liked this story! I really enjoy Beryl's character. She's adapted well to an odd curse, she's got guts, but isn't a superhero. And she's taken a bit of damage, not really wanting to get attached, because she knows she'll always be ripped away from anything she gets attached to. I love it. My big problem is that I'd have liked to see less time devoted to the rescue scene, so it could be devoted to building the grandma's character. Her magical abilities seem a bit too 'deus ex machina' as is, and I think it could have been a bit more profound and meaningful if we knew a bit more about her and what twist of fate put her in Beryl's path at just the right time. But that's a minor nitpick, the only other being just that some of the dialogue seems rushed, which there's not an easy way to avoid given the word limit. It's a great story, and I love it, and if you ever blow it up into a bigger one, I'd love to read it.

#

I'm thinking the idea of waking in a different place should be spelled out for the reader insofar as she wakes in a different - reality? Dimension? Planet? Time? Because this was skimmed over, I never got a sense of her ever waking anywhere but the very story I'm reading. I liked the idea that she would stay awake for a long time if she liked a place - I didn't see that coming. - Lastly, I was quite miffed over the whole daughter in a different place and she learned how powerful magic could be thing. I'm thinking - she's not staying with these two strangers - she's going to sleep and wake and sleep and wake until she returns to the location in which she lost her daughter.

#

A magic story, very good take on the challenge. A couple of nits: The “Crumpled to the ground like her strings had been cut”, seems like it’s half way between a simile and a metaphor. Some minor formatting issues, but I never know if those are in the original or caused by the electrons being shipped through various computers. I liked this story, but I wondered if she changed places every night how did she get pregnant, deliver the child and move on. Not that she couldn’t do it, just seems tough for the kid to be left lying on the ground somewhere far from where the father is.

#

I like the premise of this, and lol at the ‘the insect’s don’t talk. That’s a relief.’ Pretty sure she wouldn’t have just discarded her own daughter without a fight, though. This idea could make a very interesting longer story.

#

This was a funny little story. The first paragraph read off, it went into thoughts, then she was asleep. But once we got past that, it was off and running. My main concern was the dialogue. It just read off, sort of like talking heads. It just seemed so formal as if real people wouldn’t talk that way, sort of like puppets. I liked the ending though.

#

Is that a POV violation, or did she know Brand's name without being told? And then, how did Clara know that Beryl was cursed. And then the I happen to be a sorceress myself seems very... convenient. It felt like the author was leading this story, not the characters, or the character's choices.

#

By about half way through this, it felt it was a story that had a destination, it was going somewhere. The stage was set for a showdown with the soldiers, with the additional dilemma of whether she would last awake long enough to resolve the story. Instead, this setup was set aside, in favour of back story and a fortuitous resolution to her jumping. In addition, the jumping issue was complicated by the loss of her child, which was too strong as a side issue, one that made the resolution less satisfying. So while I really enjoyed the first half, I found the second half frustrating.

#

I felt like there was a lot of back story we missed out on. Like she has had many interesting adventures in other worlds but we only saw the tail end to the story.

#

Interesting, gets to the point quickly. But I don’t think Brand would ask “Who’s that?” Hadn’t thought of it before but this one could use a bit of smelling maybe taste. And I wonder what she did to get that sorceress so angry, even though it may not matter in a story this short. Especially since she sounds like a modern girl, I don’t know if you meant for that to be or not. And that last line is kinda pushing it with just one night.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:57 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 12 Just before Everything Ceases



Vanity, all is vanity, especially the end of the world. That thought ran through my head as I looked around the beauty pallor. One hair dresser teased a young woman’s hair, while another one applied dye to an older woman’s hair. Bright Pink.
With a shake of my head I watched as I walked by. Half a day before the date the Mayans said would be it for the world and people were getting their hair done. So they could look beautiful for the end or for whatever would come after. I have heard teachers explain that we would end up in the next plain of existence. So these women, and some men, wanted to look their best to greet whoever was on the other side. An army of beauticians and plastic surgeons were busy. Not everyone went that way of course, some people lay unconsciousness because they


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Hmmm, not sure what to think of this. I did like the new take of the actions of people when faced with the end of the world. Couldn’t by the premise but did appreciate the twist.

#

I was puzzled by a lot of this, including the skyscraper and the word "even" in "Most churches, even synagogues and masques were full."

#

The story lacks any sort of action or conflict. It's just, "I see this, I see this, I see this." None of it really grabs me. Also, since it does take place in 2012, a skyscraper couldn't go up that fast. The number of cranes they use and the speed of the cranes just wouldn't
allow it, so unless technology makes a MASSIVE step in the next 12 months, it won't happen.

#

I really like your concept for the end of the world. You were imaginative and truthful to what people would be doing if they knew for certain that it was the end of the world. It lacked emotion however. I didn’t care about the world so the thing people were doing became boring. It is hard to be happy for the supreme athlete when you know they are going to be gone in a few minutes. I had more interest for the Granny who was dying her hair pink. But that may be just that I am not in to sports, so the things I am not naturally interested in, didn’t interest me in the story. I think though, that I could be made to be interested and care if presented to the situation correctly.

#

Okay, I know people who are convinced that “something” is going to happen in December 2012, so I enjoyed reading this story. I liked the vanity premise, too, and think you might not be too far off base there. You have some word usage problems – should be beauty PARLOR, not beauty pallor. Kind of funny, though.

#

"beauty pallor" Is that a new look? Seriously, it's an interesting idea, but it ended up like that 2012 movie, I didn't think it would ever end. Nice look at the end of the world though and the way people might react.

#

It's not a bad concept, but it just didn't work for me. Mostly, I think the problem for me is the same as 'The Pesky Dead' where I don't really feel like this is a story. It feels more like a news report, or an infodump. I'm not really sure what the setting it is, other than some omniscient POV that can traverse time and space to recount unconnected details that paint the picture of the final days before this apocalyptic end. Don't get me wrong, I like the picture you're painting of a world where people aren't really sure what to do with an absolutely CERTAIN end. But for starters, that's a TOUGH sell, and I don't think you really pull it off here. I'm willing to suspend some disbelief for a story, but again, there's not really a character, so there's nothing for me to ground myself to, to care about enough to suspend my disbelief. Give me a more concrete setting and a character with a purpose . . . preferably a purpose that will never be fulfilled, and show me what their attitude is, and make me sympathize with it . . . and THEN I think this becomes a story I can get in to. But as is, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

#

The concept here is great, and I liked the details - THIS is what it's like, and why. For me, the plethora of typos brought the voting way down. Plus, I was a little lost spatially. A movement caught my eye. I turned to see an American football game... Where was the narrator in relation to that game? I mean, a movement caught his/her eye? That threw me.

#

An end of the world tale, with a little science mixed in. I think you were looking for “parlor” not “pallor”. Double of in there. The phrase, “Aliens had the earth…” doesn’t fit. The sentence, “The sanctuary was full..” needs to be reworked a little awkward. A couple of spelling errors in there. I liked the science anomalies the author put in there. The problem with this story is I didn’t feel it going anywhere. That may be because it’s the end of the world, but still I think there should be a little more in there.

#

Interesting little vignettes, and an interesting thing to contemplate how people would spend their last moments if they knew the end was nigh.

#

I had to look and see it that vanity line was even on the list, I didn’t remember that one. A lot of typos which didn’t really distract and are happen frequently in these challenges as we are rushed, but the piece didn’t really work for me. I get the idea, but just not so sure that’s the way the world would go down(well maybe the orgies) It just seemed a little too far fetched, and in truth it was just a person walking down the street.

#

I've read a few stories like this one before, and I generally like it. This one suffered from a case of a missing POV Character. The POV character was only an observer, they didn't have a history, or a family to miss, or a place to be. I had a hard time caring about the situation. Overall though, it was well written, and interesting. I didn't hate it, I just would have liked it better if I cared what happened.

#

Some interesting extrapolation in this. There was certainly a lot of thought, and I like this kind of thought in science fiction. But it lacked story, and there wasn’t the quirkiness, depth of meaning or grand scope needed to sustain it through as an essay. If you could take the world building that you did do, personalise it into a character (perhaps the famed athlete) and give him the dilemma (perhaps of facing the pointlessness of his own efforts) which he could overcome just in time, then it would have felt a more rounded story.

#

I liked the idea of the end of the world but kept waiting for the narrator to tell us what he thought was important. It seemed to me that he looked down on many people for how they chose to spend their last day but did not have any idea what was a good way to spend the last day.

[ January 16, 2012, 09:51 PM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 13 AVERAGE

The girl was so absolutely average it was astonishing. Judy Deaver would draw stares from early morning shoppers as she walked purposefully from her small apartment to work every day. She knew what they were thinking. “How could someone go out in public like that?” In a world dominated by perfect people she reveled in her plain looks. They made her stand out, gave her an identity.
Each morning she would walk by the shops that offered her the promise of beauty. “Come in and we will make you perfect,” they screamed in big bold print. She could think of nothing worse than being perfect. So she ignored them and walked to and from work, secure in her averageness.
Judy worked at the firm of Jones and Jones. The work suited her perfectly. They were an accounting firm that handled


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I think this could be punched up in a lot of places using details instead of generalities. For example, "He was handsome, but not because his features were flawless, it was his flaws that stood out." What flaws? I also didn't follow why the word man was put in quotes.

#

Ok, first she's so average it's unbelievable, then, in the same paragraph, she's different to every one else and stands out like a sore thumb. It looks like the first line was hammered in just to meet the criteria to be honest.
You can only use the word perfection so many times before it starts to look like punctuation and make the whole thing, well, average.

#

A woman so average she is odd. This is a tale of envy. Too much was made of her plainness. The info dump of her love for adventure books read like an after thought. This needs some tightening. The gun at the end came out of nowhere. I was hoping for a brighter ending.

#

I like, but . . . I feel lied to. You start off showing me a girl not only comfortable with her averageness, but proud of it. But she reads her exciting novels and dreams of excitement and then gets super pissed when she can't be exciting. I get it, but the transition feels too easy. Either she never WAS really that secure in her averageness, or whatever it was that changes her needs to be more significant. I would have liked to see her interact with her dream man and **be rejected** for the perfect girl. And then THAT I think I would buy into. But again, pulling out the magical suspension of disbelief goggles . . . GIVEN that change in attitude, I completely buy the end result, and I actually really like the entire premise. The narrative flows well, and I think you built this character superbly. Just make the big change happen more believably, and I'm there all the way.

#

Only issue I had was with the premise. If everyone in the world is beautiful, then beautiful is average, and average is ugly, because those are the only choices.

The only way this makes sense is if suddenly everyone has become beautiful (and has the same idea of beauty across cultures and locations). This is hard to stomach. I think the idea is good, and it can be a good story, but the way it is put into this one leaves me questioning it instead of reading on.

#

Cruel twist of irony. Very engaging read. I couldn’t decide if I should feel pity for the woman or not. I had a feeling of “she did it to herself” conflicting with a feeling of “society pushed her to this.” Either way, it is an emotionally charged story

#

I really sympathized with Judy, having spent most of my life feeling like a bit of an ugly duckling, but I haven’t blown anyone away yet. Fingers crossed. I wish there had been some dialogue in this story rather than just narration.

#

I liked the first half of this very much, and eagerly read on. Then it started going downhill, but I was still willing to ride along because it was going downhill based on the rules of the story. Then the ending... I was like, huh?
Crit: I didn't get a sense of how many people had this make-over. There seemed to be many, but then why would there still be so many commercials for it? And, how could so many people afford it and our MC couldn't. Perhaps it was her choice not to no matter what, but that wasn't self-evident. Why was the character becoming so overpoweringly ugly? Was it hate that made her ugly? Too many questions for me to have relaxed and enjoyed.

#

Strong start. Reminded me of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies. But I was disappointed that she devolved into petty jealousy over someone she’d only seen once. Seemed a waste for a strong, independent character.

#

By definition Average is the middle ground. So if she was average, would she really draw that much attention. I don’t point this out to be sarcastic but in truth, she seems to not to be average at all, as the average is pretty, she must be ugly. As far as the writing it was all distant, and I felt no emotional attachment at all to the character. The writing itself wasn’t bad, it just didn’t let me into the character through a scene in my opinion, it told me but didn’t show me.

#

There was a lot about this that I really liked. I liked how clearly you showed the woman's thought process, and her arc of character that changed her from happy to murderously angry. I love how you showed the perception of her environment skewed through the woman's attitude. I thought that was well done. I don't buy the situation though. If she's average, then wouldn't, by definition, there be more people exactly like her? Would she look at the average, or homely with the same disgust, or perhaps an exaggerated hatred? Interesting though.

#

It was a reasonable character journey, down into the depths of despair. I certainly understood Judy’s motive for killing at the end. But at the same time I didn’t like her. Perhaps that was your intention, if so you succeeded, but to me it detracted a bit from the story by making me want to stay distant to her. Secondly, I found that the occasional lack of specific information (e.g. her mark’s flaws) made it even more distant. So, in the end, I didn’t really know what to think of the story. I did find it one of the more structurally sound stories in the batch, as it did attempt a character arc.

#

I thought at first Judy was the good guy. I like how by the end of the story she had gone from seeming perfectly sane to becoming a lunatic. It was unexpected and I enjoyed the twist.

#

Not bad for that type of story.... sad or is it melancholy ? But where did that gun come from? I might have missed something but it seemed to come out of the blue. A lot of narrative there which I don’t mind so much but a lot of readers do. And no getting into trouble at work? Seems like someone would say something the first time she was late and the amount of mistakes she made anyway. There could be some more senses here and there.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:58 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 14 Reversal of Fortune

Six feet of earth is never enough to truly bury the dead. I found this out as I clawed through rock, clay, and soil to emerge deep within the Forgotten Forest.
Phillip Jones, AKA The Scorpion, my lifetime nemesis, had seen to it that no one would ever find me, but I'm sure he hadn't anticipated me rising from the dead.
I cleaned my cape best I could, and trudged west, hoping to find a town.
Frankie's gas station. How quaint. I punched through a newspaper kiosk and grabbed the local paper. "Philanthropist Jones showers city with riches!"
The image shows The Scorpion leaning out of an open helicopter door with a half-empty burlap sack containing what's left of my


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This had some really great lines, like… Me and my ten remaining dollars would take him down…. The slapstick quality of this work combined with the cape-wearing protag reminded me of the movie Kick-Ass.

#

For me, it was a little too silly to enjoy. Because of the silliness, I couldn't bring myself to feel any danger, or care much about any of the characters. When nothing is at risk, it's hard to care, and when you don't care, why read?

#

Satirical superhero tale. What fun! Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Only the lame hand-to-hand combat (read more like a geeky slap fight) turned me off. Loved I'd kidnapped the most patient girl in the world. You have a nice touch of humor. Liked it.

#

I was lost most of the time. Why does he regret not opening a savings account, when we already learned he had substantial savings but the scorpion stole them?

#

This one didn't quite work for me. I'm not sure why, but I think it was just that I didn't really know who the MC was well enough. It felt a bit like a 'Mystery Men' or 'The Incredibles' kind of world with a superhero/supervillain around every corner, but I really had to work to pull that out of the clues that were given. And the hook, or the trick of the story, the relic, just didn't get explained to me well. Maybe I'm just being thick, but I just didn't quite understand the rules very well. That, and having a hostage that never feels threatened, a bad guy who doesn't put up much of a fight, and a good guy who's kind of a klutz . . . none of it really gets me involved much. The whole setting says to me “You shouldn't really care much 'cause even the characters don't” That sounds a bit harsher than I mean it to, but I really don't feel much angst over any of this, the way it is. Just lay out the conflict a bit more clearly for me from the beginning, and I think I'd get into it more.

#

I liked this story, though I'm not a lover of present tense and the tense does seem to get a little muddled in places. I like the two superheroes thing, but the brothers part was no real surprise and the twin relic seemed a bit too sudden, with no hint at all of its existance prior to it appearing.

#

I’m not one much for superhero stories, but this was good. I had fun reading it and siding with the ‘understudy’. I really like the “can I borrow your phone?” line. You can probably leave out The Scorpion’s real name, as it is never mentioned in the rest of the story it isn’t necessary. I loved the voice in which you wrote this, it suits the work brilliantly.

#

This one seemed a little disjointed to me. It started well enough, except the “cleaned my cape..” sentence is missing something. I could follow the action well enough, but it didn’t seem to flow. I think there is potential in there, but it needs shaping, honing and refining.

#

This had some great lines. I wish some of the backstory was a little clearer a little earler, though. A few tense change issues, but overall entertaining.

#

Funny story. Super Heroes walking around town, was a strange little tale. I liked the piece though. I did get the feeling the writing was little removed, sort of distant. This can happen a lot in shorter pieces when trying for a story that should be longer. But not bad.

#

Okay...Well written. Interesting. Easy to read. Cool little hints into what's going on... what the heck happened? The brother rivals Scorpion and Black Death( with a cape) have magical relics that make them zombies, and they fought robot clams, and there are guns, and knives in plastic wrap and... how many genre's are packed inside this flash fiction? I'm on the fence. Actually I'm on the top of at least several genre fences wondering how the heck you can find a market for this cool yet, weird story. Weird stories perhaps?

#

I imagined this story in black and white, a dark feel to a superhero story. On one level it worked, as it had a narrative that worked to a certain extent. There were some very funny lines, like the patient kidnap victim, and the people fuel from the yellow M. But I didn’t understand the significance of the relic until much too late – the information at the end was too new and needed to be foreshadowed more so that the twist of the reason for it shrinking could be an “aha I should have known” moment.

#

I was on board with the story until the end. I was confused as to what was happening during the fight scene and did not quite understand how the relic worked.

#

Not too bad, but for me the story wasn’t fleshed out enough. With this type of story it may not need to be but again that was my impression. Kinda fun except for the ending. Seems like he should have some form of safe house but he does seem kinda of lazy.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:59 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Entry # 15 Sixty Feet Under

Six feet of earth is never enough to truly bury the dead. No, it takes gallons of water.

Hold your mask. Hold your gauge. Jump.
The water flooded into her suit. Its chilly fingertips tickled her back, making her gasp. The last breath she would breathe of warm Texas air. She bobbed at the surface of the lake and pressed the regulator into her mouth.

Everything looked good, it was time to descend.

The water was green and cloudy. Not much visibility today. It didn't matter. She just wanted to get wet. To explore the underwater world she had missed so much. It had been a year. One too many drinks had led to so much more than it was supposed to.

His dark curls and sea green eyes won't make him a good father.


#################################################################


I'm not sure I understood this one. It felt like a suicide dive, which I'm okay with, but I didn't get the motivation. What was down there that was so important? That really needed to be spelled out for me crystal clear, and I didn't get it. What was worth leaving behind life, a kid, and presumably a career, and family. And how could an experienced diver get caught running out of air so easily? Again, not against the general idea, but as it's laid out, it just feels like a half-story.

#

A tragic flash tale. Like your writing and style. Too bad the story didn’t pan out like it should have. Liked the promise of your prose. May I suggest you search for another way to end this?

#

Not much to critique here. I didn't fully understand how the discussion of the daughter and father related to the discovery of the body.

#

I liked the story, but it felt too short. You got a few thoughts from
the dying woman, but not enough to care much when she died.

#

I liked the premise of the story, especially when you introduced the corpse. But then suddenly she was out of air and drowning. I didn’t get to find out about the corpse and now the story is dead, because the MC is dead. I would definitely consider expanding this story a bit more. As it is right now, you may as well leave out the corpse because it has nothing to do with the rest of the story. It has the potential to though. It felt like you cut out parts of the story to make it fit the length.

#

I'm pretty confused about this one. Where is she? I got the impression of maybe a lake, but then she's in a cave.
" her regulator began to breathe heavy " not sure if this is some kind of diving term but I'm not sure a regulator can breathe at all.
Then she starts trying to swim upwards, but as far as I can tell she's in an underwater cave, there's nowhere to swim up to. Then it just stops.

#

You did a nice job of putting the reader underwater – an unusual environment, difficult to adequately convey. Made me think you are not a stranger to the depths. There are some tense changes and typos which distract from the story, and I confess I felt let down by the ending. I think I was expecting to meet up with Mr. Sea-green Eyes, but the main character just dies instead. Leaving her kid behind. This rang my mom alarm

#

Sadly, I had absolutely no idea what this story was about, or even what happened. I cheated on this one and read the other critiques before writing my own, and I'm afraid I didn't glean any clues from them that might give me something to offer in way of a critique.

#

This one was deliciously evil. I liked the little twists in there, but then it’s probably just because the fit my twisted personality. I got a good sense of the surroundings and the action. A couple of flaws in the story: One, Scuba tanks have a built in reserve that prevent happening what happened here. Two an experienced diver, which she should be if she’s teaching it, would never be caught in this position. They carefully plan dives and know exactly how much time they have and specific depths. Additionally as you swim for the surface, the air in your lungs expands, meaning if she were heading up she should make the surface. She would have to be blowing off excess air. These little flaws are not readily apparent, but a little work on the story could overcome them.

#

A sad piece of flash. The writing was so distant from the main character, that I had trouble getting an emotional connection to her. Subsequently, her death didn’t have the impact I think it could have.

#

Well, that short. I don’t know how I feel. I liked the pacing, and was into the story, then it ended. I never got to know her, nor really care about her.

#

Cool title. Evoked an emotional response, but probably not the one you wanted. "Dear POV Character. You are a mother. You don't get to stop fighting to live. Also, if you are a scuba instructor, then wouldn't you notice where your PSI intake is?"

#

This started out well, as an experiment in style. The opening intrigued. However, just as I thought that it was coming near the end of the setup, and should have been leading to some greater revelations, it stopped. We didn’t find out the reason for the body. And the reason for the lack of air was non-existent. At the end it felt quite random, and I felt cheated of my investment in the character.

#

Another sad tale. Seems incomplete to me but again with this type of short short story it might be okay. And was the burning of the water what drowning people usually feel or was the water polluted? If so it should be mentioned earlier. Good way of getting the back story in. Seemed like she wasn’t down there all that long but time cam pass quickly or she didn’t check the air level in the tank. But either way I think something should be mentioned.

[ January 17, 2012, 08:59 AM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Hey Look! Up there! You wanted to know what others felt of your writing? Now you can see for yourself.

Thoughts on your story are added to the openings I posted. 6 people have done their critique duties (which leaves nine of you left).

Axe wanted to know who the authors were. Let's play mix and match. Here is an alphabetical list of authors. First person to match them all correctly gets to pet Ms Woodbury's cat. (It's really soft).

Axeminister
Brendan
Corrin224
LDWriter
LeetahWest
MJ
Owen
PDBlake
RobEd
RoxyL
Shimiqua
Snapper
Tiergan
Utahute
Wireless Librarian


You may feel free to post in this thread. Guess away!

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Utahute72
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I'm guessing Axe 4, Snapper, 5, Shimiqua, 1. That's about all I can get, but then I'm not very good at this. But then it could be Snapper - 1, Axe 4 and Shimiqua 9. So I really have no clue.

[ January 16, 2012, 02:06 AM: Message edited by: Utahute72 ]

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You guessed one correct, Ute.

More critiques added. 9 people have voted.

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Just added another critique. That makes 10 people who have voted.

Tease: 8 different stories have received a first place vote thus far.

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Here's some of my guesses:
1. Snapps or Shimmy (Based on Ute's guess)
For the official, I'll say Snapps. He has the stones to use another forum member's name and write a story. Plus, he's done enough of these contests to just go off the deep end and write something like this.
2. RoxyL
3. LDwriter
4. Wireless Pat
5. Tiergan
6. Ute
7. Brendan
9. Shimmy (Figuring if #1 is wrong, this may be right.)
12. Leetah

I thought I'd recognize PDBlake's entry, but there's no trolls or farts, so I'm lost. Although he's my back up for #4 if Pat didn't write that one.

Owen, MJ, Corrin, and RobED - I'm not familiar enough with your writing to guess. Plus I needed to omit some to not give mine away by process of omition.

Tiergan - I've never guessed an entry of yours correctly. This time? Although I'm getting Spidey tinglings from #7 as well. (I can't guess Brendan either, so...)

Axeminister - yours rocks - so hard.
Actually, because I wrote and submitted this thing so dang quickly, I've mucked up my normally clean(er) prose. Wait, no, I did that on purpose to throw off the guessing. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Axe

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snapper
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Okay then, let me pull out my list and see how you did. Uh-huh, Uh-huh, oh yes, yep, yep.

Congrats! Just like the last time, you got everyone wrong! Geez, couldn't even get your own right?

And we have more crits above. Five people are left to get there homework done.

Tease: There has been a change on the leader board. Like always, a tight race is in progress.

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axeminister
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That's OK, I understand you don't want to admit I guessed them all correct on my first try. This is good. Keeps the suspense going a little while longer. [Smile]

Axe

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by snapper:
First person to match them all correctly gets to pet Ms Woodbury's cat. (It's really soft).

What? SHE's really soft, and she likes to be petted. But when did she and I agree to this?
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snapper
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Wow. You really do read every post.

Easy there. I didn't tell anyone how to get to your house. That's their problem.

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shimiqua
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1. Snapper
2. Tiergan
3. Snapper
4. Snapper
5. WirelessLibrarian
6. Snapper
7. Axe
8.Snapper
9.RoxyL
10.Snapper
11.Snapper
12.Ute
13.Leetah West
14. Snapper
15. LDwriter

Also, I think Brendan wrote one of them, but I'm not sure which one.

I'm going to laugh if I get Snapper wrong.
~Sheena

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snapper
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You got two correct, Shimmy. Not going to say if one, both, or none were mine.
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Utahute72
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We ought to just admit now we really suck at this.
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RoxyL
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Lol, Sheena.
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Tiergan
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I have to admit I am totally loving the comments on my story.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by snapper:
Wow. You really do read every post.

Easy there. I didn't tell anyone how to get to your house. That's their problem.

Well, I certainly try to read them all.

I'm just surprised at how many people seem to want to win the prize of getting to pet my Mewtant kitty.

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snapper
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It is a very big prize, KD. Brendan is flying all the way from Australia to collect on it.
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snapper
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More crits are posted. We have only two left.

Brendan has informed me he'll not be coming to America now. I guess he took the non-invitation to pet the Mewtant hard

[ January 16, 2012, 09:53 PM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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snapper
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Just received the 14th vote. One last person to vote. 9 entries received a first place vote. The race is down to two entries.
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Brendan
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Ok, let's see. I'll have to put in an entrant to obtain the prize (which includes the return tickets, I presume!!!)

1. Shimiqua (She sounds like a Walrus type of person)
2. MJ
3. Owen
4. Snapper (who else would use the name of a fellow contestant? Perhaps Axe and Shimi, but since Shimi wrote the opening line, it couldn't be her. Likewise, it can't be RoxyL, which counts out two real potential candidates for this style)
5. PDBlake
6. Corrin224
7. Tiergen
8. Axe
9. Wireless Librarian
10. RobEd
11. LeetahWest
12. LDWriter
13. Ute
14. RoxyL
which leaves me the last one, by the looks
15. Brendan

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snapper
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You have five correct, sir.
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OliverBuckram
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i for one have found the crits, brief as they are, very useful. when every one says the same thing about your story, that's a great clue about how to revise it
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pdblake
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Judging by the crits there's definately a concensus on what's wrong with mine.

No idea who wrote what this time around, even mine doesn't look like something I would have written.

Definately not enough trolls [Big Grin]

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LeetahWest
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I agree Oliver. My crits were all very similar and very insightful. I now know where I went wrong, and hopefully wont repeat the mistake in the future.
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Tiergan
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The crits on my piece were all over the place. [Smile] (hint, hint) But I expected that full range.
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snapper
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We have a winner! As usual, a very close vote. 11 entries received at least a third place vote and many of the voters listed honorable mentions (6 in total), so every entry was shown some kind of love! Based on our standard point system (5 for first, 4 for second, 3 for third), plus points awarded for earlier entires and one for the first critique received, here is a list of the top five and their score.

Entry # 10 Elves and Reindeer – RobEd - 30

Entry # 4 Revelations – snapper - 28

Entry #1 The Process – Shimiqua - 23

Entry # 9 Life and Death on the Bayou – RoxyL - 22

Entry # 7 Turning Point – Corrin224 - 21


Congrats to the new guy, RobEd. You win a free critique from me! (yipee) So send anything up to 10000 words, or a novel up to the first 10000 words (email me if you have something more) and I will give you my brutal and honest opinion/ line edit. Send it whenever you like, no strings attached.

So who wrote what? I don't know, let me guess.


Entry #1 The Process – Shimiqua
Entry # 2 The Face of Faith – Brendan
Entry # 3 Lauma von Prussia – LeetahWest
Entry # 4 Revelations – snapper
Entry # 5 The Pesky Dead – Owen
Entry # 6 The Gift – PDBlake
Entry # 7 Turning Point – Corrin224
Entry # 8 One Last Wish – Tiergan
Entry # 9 Life and Death on the Bayou – RoxyL
Entry # 10 Elves and Reindeer – RobEd
Entry # 11 Beryl’s Fate – Wireless Librarian
Entry # 12 Just before Everything Ceases – LDWriter
Entry # 13 AVERAGE – Utahute
Entry # 14 Reversal of Fortune – Axeminister
Entry # 15 Sixty Feet Under – MJ

Let's see how I did...Got em all on my first try! I win! I win! Now to collect my prize...

here, kitty, kitty, kitty...

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wirelesslibrarian
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Congrats to the winners! You guys rocked it.
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shimiqua
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Hahaha Axe thinks I have stones...

Ahem...

Well done, Rob Ed. You knocked snapper off the top spot. Someone had to do it.

I have to say I am astonished that Average was written by a man. I bought her as a girl a billion trillion percent. Well done, Utahute.

Also, Brendan I have to say for the record your story totally rocked. I would publish it any day of the week.

Thanks snapper for the contest. I won't say that The Process was my favorite story ever written, but it broke the slump for me.

I enjoyed writing it, and enjoyed everybody's opinions, and how somehow people always knows what story is mine. I'd say, "Yay, that means I've developed a discernible style," but maybe it's just that everyone knows the weirdest story will be mine.

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RoxyL
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Congrats RobEd! And fabulous job everyone. I thought the field of stories was very strong this time.
Snapper, as always, a pleasure to have you host these contests. Thanks a ton.

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Tiergan
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Congrats to all. It was a great challenge.

While I love writing action, I have never taken on the "campy" zombie take before it was a lot of fun to write. I fell for Anna. And even liked the dweeb who was going to land the hot girl for the first time. I didnt want him running away scared, but more in shock, and disbelief. The true love, I dont know, trying for that she was so desperate to have someone to share this hell with her, and he, well he was just happy to have a girl like him and to be needed, even if just for moral support.

Anyways thanks for all the great comments.

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RobED
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Thanks for having the contest. It was the first time I'd done a writing prompt story in years and was refreshing. I was really impressed that Brandan guessed which was mine when I've only posted a single 13 line beginning.
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LeetahWest
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It was a fun contest. I learned a lot even if, judging by the critiques it doesn't look like I did so well. This exercise helped me immensely.
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LDWriter2
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l didn't do so well either with the writing but one critique was that there wasn't enough about the narrator. Actually at the beginning I had planned on explaining something about him but totally forgot as I wrote it. I can add that with the next revision. And maybe a couple of other additions, like wars in other parts of the world.

And I think I got the inspiration for the style after reading a story in an anthology edited by Datlow. There is one in there with the same narrative style but it has a unique ending.

And I am working on a story using the Death as welcome guest line, which might be YA or MG, and I want to do one with the dragon line if I get permission to use a line from The Process and finally I want to do a story with the six feet isn't enough line. All will be short-- around but not necessarily under 1500 words.

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Utahute72
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Well Leetah, if it makes you feel any better I had you as number two.

Snapper didn't post my last comment because it was general in nature, but it was that each of these, at least from my point of view had something to recommend them. In the end I voted for those that were more interesting for me.

Snapper, thanks for holding this thing.

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Brendan
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RobEd - Well done. And getting your name right was a fluke - I was only fairly sure of three (Shimiqua, Snapper and LDWriter)

LeetahWest - I don't think you did too badly - the comments on your story seemed to pick up all sorts of things, which means you engaged us enough to want to discuss various aspects of your story.

Shimiqua - Thanks for your vote of confidence. And also for that great first line. The whole first scene was more or less transcribed from our 2-year-old's attempt to tease us as said in a previous post. I think that the story is art imitating life imitating art (imitating life). [Smile]

LDWriter - Olaf Stapleton did two novels with a similar approach. They are considered classics now.

Snapper - Thanks for putting this on. And congratulations for winning the guessing competition too. [Smile]

I was also wondering if we should coordinate where we send our stories. Imagine:

Editor: So what do you want to shortlist this month?

Sub-editor 1: Here's a really short story with this great opening line. "When I asked my children what they wanted for breakfast..."

Sub-editor 2(interrupting): "My daughter answered 'Jesus'." You read that one too? That's on my shortlist. The story's really funny.

Sub-editor 1(looks at sub-editor 2 strangely): Perhaps the opening line is a little amusing, but the story... funny? That wasn't the emotion that I thought it tapped.

Sub-editor 2: Oh, come on now. It is hilarious

Editor: Ok, give it here. I suppose humor is somewhat subjective.

[ January 18, 2012, 03:09 AM: Message edited by: Brendan ]

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